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News Values in different medias

There are different news values, and I think different medias emphasize different values in their reporting, because they know what works (what sells or makes a profit) for them. I compared a NY Times article on Israel’s reaction to the situation in Egypt, to content on the English site of Al Jazeera covering Israel as well.

“I’m not worried at all. If the people in Egypt want to kill themselves,” he shrugged. “You write in Al Jazeera that Ron Chayek said ‘a good Arab is a dead Arab’.”

Ron Chayek, a 35-year-old website manager

This quote from the Al Jazeera page sums up one of the huge differences between content from the two sources. While NY Times did get quotes from people in Israel, they were either officials, or academics. Al Jazeera, on the other hand, collected and published several quotes from regular people in Israel, who don’t say the same thing. Mya Guarnieri worked hard to include quotes representing many different reactions and opinions, even the minority ones.  I think Al Jazeera is large enough that with their 65 bureaus – one’s probably in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem  – it would be easy for their staff to go out into the streets and actually ask passerby what they think of Egypt. There’s a sense of intimacy and reality, that is almost absent from the Times article, which says at the bottom has contributing reporting from Jerusalem.

But perhaps the differences really just boil down to a space and/or resources issue. The Times article was one of the front cover stories for 1/31, but it’s just over 1000 words so it feels short. On the other hand Al Jazeera has plenty of space for its coverage of the Egypt situation that their website so they have two articles on the Israeli situation, one that is manly the quotes from the people and the other reporting on the government. I don’t think the Times had time or room to pursue both sides of the story so they chose the more official government spin. Which for the casual reader in New York, is a fine angel, but for the more invested follower of the Egypt situation, I think they would be more satisfied with Al Jazeera’s coverage.


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